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Hibiki 12 Year Whisky

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Just as their popularity is skyrocketing in the West, Japanese whiskies are becoming scarce. Like their Scottish counterparts, age statements are disappearing from some Japanese bottlings, giving the distilleries more flexibility as they wait for aging stocks to mature. Which is why we had to jump at the chance to grab the last few cases in the US of Suntory’s masterful Hibiki 12-year-old.

 

Hibiki 12 Year Whisky Binny's

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Binny’s Handpicks from Journeyman Distillery

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We’ve been vocal fans of Journeyman since their 2011 launch. They’ve given us gin, whiskey and everything in between. Their output has never been better than right now, and we have proof.

 

Journeyman Handpicks Binny's

 
They recently sent us three barrel samples of Last Feather Rye and three barrel samples of Buggy Whip Wheat. Like any other week, we had already tasted through barrel samples from a few other distilleries. Without naming names, we can tell you Journeyman beats one of the Big Boys hands down. All six JMan samples were so expressive and complex that it was tough to settle on just four. One shocking detail is that all of these samples were from 15 gallon barrels. Smaller barrels age faster than standard 53 gallon American barrels, but short cuts rarely yield fully mature whiskey. These samples, aged for a full year, show amazingly flavorful whiskey. Clearly, Journeyman has whisky production dialed in. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these new Binny’s Handpicked Selections from Journeyman and see how it’s done.
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Binny’s Handpicks from Mississippi River Distilling Company

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One of our Whiskey Hotline’s favorite distillery is Mississippi River Distilling Company. After six years on the scene, they’re producing some amazing brown spirits. Few distilleries handle all aspects of their process as intimately as MRDC, whose grain to glass philosophy includes using only local grain grown within 25 miles of the distillery, giving them first pick on the finest and freshest grain. We recently hit the road to Iowa to grab three new Binny’s Handpicked Selections from MRDC: two barrels of Cody Road Bourbon and one of Cody Road Rye.

 

Mississippi River Distilling Company Binny's Handpicks

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Affordable Warm Weather Sippers

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The warm weather is almost here! Below are a number of vibrant and refreshing wines to enjoy throughout the spring and summer months. Whites like the chardonnay and albarino featured are ideal for warm weather, but don’t hesitate to enjoy any one of the following reds. Fresh, fruit driven, and lighter bodied, all the following reds can also be enjoyed with a slight chill.

 

Affordable Warm Weather Sippers

 
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Gems From Australia

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Wine enthusiasts are likely familiar with the GSMs and shiraz wines from the sun-drenched vineyards of the Barossa Valley. Western Australia’s Margaret River is also a source for exceptional wines. Its sunny summers and trouble free growing seasons yield stunning chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, and cabernet sauvignons. Here are some highlights, from both the Barossa Valley and the Margaret River, all ready to enjoy tonight.

 

Australia Wines

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Four Kings 2016 Craft Whiskey Collaboration

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Now available and in LIMITED supply, the 2016 Four Kings Craft Whiskey Collaboration! First conceived in 2014, this blend celebrates the camaraderie among craft distillers. Each component – from Corsair Distillery, FEW Spirits, Journeyman Distillery, and Mississippi River Distilling Company – is stunning on its own. Taken together, the Four Kings is, as the saying goes, more than the sum of its parts! Supply is limited, and only at select Binny’s stores.

 

Four Kings Malt Whiskey

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The Kentucky Bourbon Triple Crown

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Bristling with vanilla laced red orchard fruit notes, caramel hints and baking spice following on the quick at the back stretch and far turn, today’s triple crown of Kentucky straight bourbon embodies everything you’d expect from a champion thoroughbred. Resting upon a vast bed of limestone whose mineral content ensures not only strong-boned champion stallions but also forceful whiskies whose breadth of flavors can compete with anything from Scotland or Ireland – Bourbon County enjoys advantages that are the envy of the world.

 

Kentucky Bourbon Triple Crown

 
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Relentless American Syrah

Yes, the 2008 Shafer Vineyards Relentless, Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year, has long sold out. It’s no surprise – it’s one killer bottle of syrah (with just a touch of petit sirah), made by one of California’s great craftsmen who is gainfully employed by one of Napa Valley’s finest estates. But what is all the more remarkable is that it was even nominated at all.

 

Why so? Since 1988, when its Top 100 list first appeared, Wine Spectator has nominated a cabernet sauvignon or Bordeaux blend or varietal 13 out of 25 times, and a Southern Rhone blend only four times. Systematic bias? Perhaps, but I suspect someone can forcefully defend each of those 17 choices and win the argument. Cabernet blends are as powerful as they come, and the finest age as gracefully as Cary Grant; and besides, who doesn’t love the full-figured, Brigitte Bardot flavors that a great grenache blend can take? I certainly love both, but at least for me, syrah is as fine as cabernet and finer still than grenache. And I love grenache. Especially any from Gigondas and thereabouts, but I believe in ranks and orders, and syrah is higher on my list! Only one other time has syrah enjoyed the pole position in Wine Spectator’s annual ranking, and that was Penfold’s Grange, way back in 1995. Of course, Grange enjoyed a renown long before the Wine Spectator nominated its 1990 vintage for top honors. Grange is often regarded as the Southern hemisphere’s greatest wine and the equal to any First Growth, but because it’s Australian my contrarian side regards Grange as distinct enough from Shafer to mark the Relentless as truly and remarkably singular. It is the first time that an American syrah has earned that most coveted spot on the Top 100.

 

I hope not the last, for California – and increasingly Washington state – is awash with great syrah. California enjoys a Mediterranean setting, and Washington state enjoys levels of sunshine greater than those of California (if you can believe it) and a cool climate. BOTH settings, oddly enough, are ideal for easygoing syrah. A large measure of syrah’s success is due to a number of pioneering winemakers affectionately known as the Rhone Rangers – Bob Lindquist of Qupe, perhaps the most vocal supporter of California syrah when so little was planted. We do have some Qupe in stock, but today a number of producers in both California and Washington state are crafting syrahs that do the United States proud. Here are just a few of them (and the ones I suggest, in no particular order, are: Charles Smith, Copain, Qupe of course, Betz, K-Vitners, Cayuse, Neyers, and some others we don’t even carry!) all proof positive that syrah thrives in the United States

 

Now, there is syrah from France and even Australia, but perhaps we’ll visit that in the future….